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Sampling Protocols and Forms

Sampling Protocols

To ensure the integrity of our analyses and results, ILC follows a stringent process for sample submission and handling as follows: Select samples that are representative of your products both in the nature of the product and in the packaging. Tests to determine safety, quality, contents and compliance with official requirements are of no value if the sampling is carelessly performed. If possible adhere to HPB, FDA and USDA sampling guidelines.

The most reliable way to assess the quality and safety of a production lot is to test multiple samples. Please ensure that a representative portion is taken for each lot being analyzed. If you require any further assistance regarding sampling techniques, please call the lab at 905-858-8630.

Provide ILC Micro-Chem with a Sample Submission Sheet (written instructions) and clearly label all of your samples with exactly what you want to see on the final report. If a sample needs to be tested for both chemical and microbiological tests, send two samples if possible. If sending samples through ILC Micro-Chem Sample couriers submit samples in a sealed bag, labelled with your company name. If submitting a large amount of samples on a regular basis, coolers for your use can be arranged. Please contact customer support.

Microbiology Sampling & Submission Procedures

It is important to ensure that no contamination occurs when obtaining food samples for microbiological examination. To avoid potential contamination, Sampling Staff should:

  • Have received basic food hygiene training and some additional training in food sampling;
  • Pay attention to good personal hygiene; use gloves or hand sanitizer liberally
  • Wash and dry hands immediately prior to sampling;
  • Wear clean protective clothing including a head covering while in food preparation areas.

To avoid potential contamination from sampling equipment, sampling staff should:

  • Wherever possible obtain unopened packaged foods;
  • Where necessary use sterile food quality plastic containers/bags which must be securely sealed       immediately after filling;
  • Use clean utensils which must be sterilized before use; utensils should be used only for sampling
  • Ensure no contact is made between personnel and internal surfaces of the sampling container or       any part of the utensil that comes into contact with the food being sampled.

The nature and quantity of the sample should allow satisfactory microbial examination to be made. The quantity will vary according to circumstances, but should be at least 100 grams depending on testing requirements. The nature of the sample will depend on the purpose for which the examination is being undertaken e.g. whether a particular pathogen is being sought. All samples should be labelled to correspond with the sample ID recorded on the Sample Submission Sheets. If utilizing ILC Micro-Chem couriers put samples in an appropriate container and label with company name. If shipping samples through commercial couriers, please follow the Submitting Samples link.

Environmental Swabs

Use appropriate swabs which can be provided for a charge to all ILC Micro-Chem clients upon request. Keep swabs, sponges and water cool (between 0-7 ° C) and avoid freezing at any time, including during shipping.       

  • If using cotton tip swabs be careful not to touch the inside of the tube or the swab stem. Dip the       swab into the phosphate buffer to moisten tip, if not already pre-moistened.
  • If using pre-moistened sponge swabs, open the bag carefully and swab area while holding the       sponge with the sample bag. If the sponge swab is dry, pour a small amount of phosphate buffer       into the swab bag (enough to dampen swab). Be careful not to touch the inside of the swab bag       with the bottle of buffer solution.
  • Swab a 100 cm2 surface area (10 cm by 10 cm) in three directions: up/ down; left/ right; and       diagonally, covering as much of the surface as possible.
  • Replace swab in its vial container or bag and label accordingly.
  • Identify the swabs or sponges on a submission sheet to be sent to the lab along with the swabs.       Keep a copy for your records.
  • Place all samples together in a sample bag with the submission sheet. Ensure bag is labelled with       your company name.
  • Keep swabs or sponges cool and avoid freezing at any time, including during shipping.
  • Ship samples according to the shipping instructions listed on the Submitting Samples link.

NOTE: It is best to create a "map" of all locations that will be swabbed over time, if possible. It is important to swab the same area, in the same way, each time at a given location since the results may be used as a comparison over time. If the same area is not swabbed in the same way, then a comparison can't be made.

NOTE: Irregular surfaces should be swabbed in the same manner each time to allow for accurate comparisons.

NOTE: When taking several swabs in a given facility, there is no need to use a separate phosphate buffer, however:


Chemistry Sampling & Submission Procedures

Representative and correct sampling is an essential requirement for obtaining valid results in chemical testing. Taking samples from the beginning, middle, and end of a lot run or from different batches on different days and compositing the samples would ensure that they were representative of your product. If submitting samples for Nutritional Analysis, it is recommended that at least 6 to 12 samples of at least 100 grams each be sent for analysis. For most chemical analysis, 200 to 500 grams of sample is sufficient. Samples will be composited at the laboratory by trained technicians to ensure sample homogeneity. Adequate sample description is necessary to evaluate results for accuracy. If additives, fillers, sugar alcohols, vitamins, etc. have been added to your product, please note this on your submission sheet. If expected values are known, supplying this information will ensure that proper dilution factors and/or sample treatments are applied for flurometer, spectrophotometer, gas chromatography or liquid chromatograph methods.

Sample Submission/Chain of custody

QSF 001.2 Master Sample Submission Form Download PDF

QSF 002.5 Sample Submission Form for Allergens Download PDF

QSF 004.3 Sample Submission Form for Nutritional Analysis - Copy Download PDF

QSF 035.12.1 Sample Submission Form for Food Microbiology Download PDF

QSF 035.12.2 Sample Submission Form for Water Microbiology Download PDF

QSF 035.12.3 Sample Submission Form for Microbiology -Env swab and air plates Download PDF

QSF 035.12.4 Sample Submission Form for Microbiology -Nutritional and Dietary supplements Download PDF


Submitting Prepared Samples (Ground)

If you are submitting samples that have already been prepared, it is the customer's responsibility to provide representative, homogeneous samples. Please ensure that sufficient sample description has been included. Sample description is necessary to choose the appropriate analytical methods and evaluate the results against known values.